Difference Between Types of GPS Signals – How To Create a GPS App

By: | Updated: Jun-29, 2023
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In a world that is constantly on the move, navigation is an integral part of our lives. GPS is the solution that helps you navigate the busiest cities, territories, and even hidden gems. But have you ever wondered how GPS works and what it takes to enter geolocation app development?

From envisioning a concept to launching a full fledge app, this blog will be your compass on a journey into the realm of GPS application development. How to create a GPS app: welcome to the guide to differences between GPS signals and building cutting-edge GPS apps (take a look at the Topflight Apps article here).

Types of GPS signals and their differences

Difference Between Types of GPS Signals

GPS signals can be categorized into different types based on their purpose and the information they provide. The primary types of GPS signals are as follows:

L1 C/A (Coarse Acquisition)

This is the most commonly used GPS signal and is available to the general public. It operates at a frequency of around 1575.42 MHz and provides position, velocity, and timing information with relatively low accuracy.

L1 P(Y) (Precise)

This signal is encrypted and intended for military use. It operates at the same frequency as L1 C/A but provides significantly higher accuracy and enhanced anti-spoofing capabilities.


This signal operates at a frequency of around 1227.6 MHz and is available to both military and civilian users. It provides improved accuracy and offers interoperability with other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).


This signal operates at a frequency of around 1176.45 MHz and is available for civilian use. It offers increased accuracy, better resistance to interference, and supports advanced features such as ionospheric correction.

L2 P(Y)

Similar to L1 P(Y), this encrypted signal is primarily intended for military applications. It operates at a frequency of around 1227.6 MHz and provides enhanced accuracy and anti-spoofing capabilities.


This signal operates at a frequency of around 1.2-1.6 GHz and is used by augmentation systems like the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) in the United States. These systems improve GPS accuracy by transmitting correction data to receivers.

The differences between these GPS signals lie in their intended use, accuracy, availability, and encryption. Civilian signals like L1 C/A and L2C are widely accessible and offer varying levels of accuracy, while encrypted military signals like L1 P(Y) and L2 P(Y) provide higher precision and anti-spoofing measures. Additionally, newer signals like L5 aim to improve accuracy and performance in challenging environments.

GPS Apps- What Are They?

What is the similarity between Uber, Tinder, and Door Dash? Well, they all are known as location-based apps. All of these apps (along with many others) have the built-in location feature.

But the question is, how do location, mapping, and routing make it easier to live in this bubble?

GPS apps, also known as Global Positioning apps, are software that utilizes the power of satellite-based navigation systems to track the precise location of a device or user. By leveraging signals from satellites, GPS apps can provide real-time location, traffic updates, and many more.

GPS Apps- Behind the Scenes

Modern devices such as Android phones, tablets, smartwatches, and all smart devices come with a series of sensors and technologies. Some of these technologies work side by side to provide accurate location of the user. Here are the key technologies that provide pinpoint location.

Global Positioning System

GPS is a net of satellites transmitting signals from space. Now, your Android/iOS devices have the capability to catch these signals and provide location. Smartphones support various kinds of GPS signals, such as:

  • Galileo
  • BeiDou
  • Glonass
  • QZSS

Cellular Network

The next tech that is used for getting accurate locations is the cellular network. When your phone connects to a signal tower, it picks up the location and transmits it using a 4G/3G network.

Bluetooth and NFC

Other important tech that is vital for indoor GPS services is Bluetooth and NFC. These two mentioned tech stacks have limited technology. Hence, they have limited use.


If you want to make a geolocation app, you have the option to integrate technologies like RFID. However, this tech will need additional hardware to work with the location app.

Typical Use Cases of Location Apps

If you want to make a GPS-based app, you need to understand how it can target potential customers. Honestly, there are a lot of use cases for GPS apps. So many that they will make you go crazy. Let’s talk about what kind of GPS apps you make.

Location tracking Apps

The first and most important use case of a location-based app is location tracking. Who doesn’t want to track their orders, food, and deliveries? Honestly, location tracking is the feature that made location apps very popular these days.


The next type is Maps. Maps are the real deal when you want to make an Android app that uses GPS. By targeting the Maps app, you can leverage exceptional utility features such as viewing points of interest, location distances, and getting updates on time.

Navigational Apps

Many users want to know the exact distance it would take to reach the final destination. Not only that, they want to see whether they should take a cycle, car, or walk on foot. That is where navigational apps come in.

These navigational apps are not limited to the above. Such apps also provide insights into how far the order is or what is the cheapest way to transfer the items from one place to another.

Geolocation App Development

While we tell you about how to create a GPS app, click on this link to read about what is involved in making such revolutionizing applications.

We are sure that you have an idea about the background of GPS apps and what type of app you can make. At this point, you have probably made the decision about what kind of app you want. Let’s talk about the steps you need to make that app.

Step 1: Finding out what to build

The first step towards geolocation application development is finding out what you want to build. This step includes getting insights on what current users want, who your competitors are, the budget constraints, the hiring model, and the building strategy.

Such information will give you a sniper’s view of what you need to do. We want to emphasize that this is an important step and defines the baseline for your app.

Step 2: Prototype the app

Once you have envisioned what you want to build, this is the step where you start the development of your project. This is where code is written, Maps API is integrated, UI is made, and a beta release is developed.

With the interim features, gather a bunch of users and allow them to use the app. Their reviews will help you in the next step.

Step 3: Troubleshooting

Anything can go wrong when you want to make a location-based map app, and the sad part is you won’t even know it. But, with the right troubleshooting steps, you can avoid that hurdle. Hire a QA team to test the app you are building. QA will report and fix the bugs, making your app final-ready for users.

Step 4: Final Release

In the path of geolocation app development, the last part is releasing the app you have built. There is not much to do here. Just upload the app to app stores and wait for approval.

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